Friday, 4 October 2013

Stop, little pot!

Oh, finally!!

I have been so out of kilter for so long, struggling along semi-ill and permanently bewildered.  I tried to be helpful and fit in with things – become involved in group events; churchy things and whatnot, socializing . . .  And it just does my head in.

A few weeks ago I made the decision to climb back up the mountain a little way – stopped answering the phone, said ‘No’ even when I felt desperately sorry for people and wanted to say ‘Yes’.

I’ve been working working working, editing someone’s first novel,  a fine work of hefty proportions, very ambitious and fraught with problems – takes me an hour or more to work through a single page, that’s every page.  But that suits me well, I love working.

And just this afternoon it’s like everything has fallen back into place and I feel like me again – yes, anti-social, semi-bonkers, lost-in-my-imagination, me.

What I craved and starved for was the thing I call ‘teenage time’.

Do you remember teenage time? 

There’s a wonderful poem by Brian Patten called Travelling Between Places.  I have to tell you, the first link I found for this, I thought, ‘Oh it’s in someone’s blog – oh never mind, that’ll do, they can still read the poem’ and – friends this is true – I never even noticed the poem was surrounded by gay porn . . .  Happily I eventually spotted a salacious close-up of somebody’s glorious bottom and the inevitable Michelangelo David or you might have got more than you bargained for when you clicked that link.  If you are disappointed, well I’m sorry.  Google Books is way more boring.

But what I love in that poem is the last stanza “when the late afternoon / drifts into the woods, when /nothing matters specially”

I first read that when I was fourteen years old (yes, that’s forty-two years ago), and it stopped me in my tracks then and has stayed with me ever since.  It’s what I think of as the Boxing Day phenomenon – timeless time, unscheduled time, a whole day to read by the fire or walk in the lanes and the fields, the woods.  Time to write poetry, listen to music, dream and think and make up stories, sew things, draw pictures, wander in the garden and look really properly at the dewy grass, the cobwebs, the falling leaves, the way a tree grows, the flight of birds across the cloudscape.  Time unspoilt by the nagging guilt that you should be somewhere else doing something for somebody - time when nothing matters specially.

That, to me, is “teenage time”.  When I was a teenager (partly because I didn’t do my homework properly and I never joined a single club) I had OODLES of time like that.  Singing in tongues to our sheep and lying on my back watching the sky through tree branches, standing in the river shallows watching the water flowing over my feet, reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and thinking about St Francis.

Then came the adult years – and somehow they got busier and busier and busier until I reached “Stop little pot! Stop!” A life overflowing with ontological porridge.

And in the end I came to feel if I couldn’t get back to teenage time I’d get sick and die.

I struggled free of a lot of things, but I have this urge to help people and preach the Gospel, which tends to get me embroiled again.  And by this Spring I was fast like a fly wrapped up by a spider, in Virtuous Things To Do.

And I had to get free again.  I just had to, or I’ll never write another book.

But this afternoon, in the solitude and the peculiar joyous wildness of autumn, I found I’d finally clicked into the groove again, got the melody back, the contentment and the peace.  And I say, THANK GOODNESS!

Okay then, back to the editing . . .


BLD in MT said...

Well, thank goodness indeed. I'd miss your anti-social, semi-bonkers, lost-in-my-imagination wit and humor otherwise! I do hope the editing goes well.

Pen Wilcock said...


Hi Beth! xx

San said...

I have missed your ramblings!! Here's to finding balance in all things, says she who is permanently out of kilter, *sigh*


Pen Wilcock said...

:0) xx

Bean said...

I feel like you! I have tried to belong to different groups, activities, but they just stress me out after a while and simply become an obligation rather than an enrichment in my life.
Some of us are more social and other more solitary. I fall into the solitary group :)


Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hi Bean! Waving! xx

Elizabeth Saunders said...

Very timely, as I enjoy my sabbath after napping and the voices in my head knock-knock about what I "should" go do...

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Elizabeth - what the Badger calls 'hardening of the oughteries'! x

BLD in MT said...

"hardening of the oughteries" - Oh, that Badger! That is fantastic.

Pen Wilcock said...


Hi Beth! xx

Anekha said...

Isn't "teenage time" a bit like "the speed of love"? I always think those times are necessary, as its the quiet moments of stillness that I think God finally has a chance to talk to us. He can't talk to us if we never stop and listen. I suppose people call it dreaming, but to me its real prayer. When I first found faith I struggled to read formal prayers out of books and felt like i just couldn't pray. Until I started trying to understand just what prayer was. The writings of my Faith say that prayer is conversation with God. There needs to be silence for that to happen, and I think "teenage time" is kind of like hanging out with God. Just chilling and enjoying His company and doing unimportant things but essential bonding.

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes, that sounds right to me, Anekha xx